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Creating Celebration Quilts Book CoverI love making quilts that celebrate something — events, milestones, the lives of lost loved ones, or even a special vacation. I relish the design decisions, the fabric choices, the execution, and the joy of seeing the quilt completed. I have made many, many celebration quilts. Some have been for myself, but mostly they have been for others.

I wrote Creating Celebration Quilts to help you design and create your own Celebration Quilts. Using the skills you have now, you can create quilts that are personal, meaningful, joyful, and healing. In my book, I have included four sections to help you through the process:

  1. The Celebration Quilt Worksheet will help you design your Celebration Quilt and offer you things to consider as you work through the process.
  2. A Closer Look follows five Celebration Quilts from concept to completion, including quilts made from a commercially available foundation piecing pattern, from a roll of precut strips, from a large collection of bow ties and a bulletin board full of quotes, from tee shirts and traditional nine-patch blocks, and from clothing and artifacts belonging to a spirited man I wish I’d met while he was still with us.
  3. The Celebration Quilt Toolbox contains tips and suggestions for taming difficult fabrics, using photographs, approaching the quilting, incorporating quilted words, constructing show-ready hanging sleeves, and adding complete and meaningful labels.
  4. The Celebration Quilts Gallery is filled with ideas and inspiration with examples of baby quilts, wedding and anniversary quilts, quilts that celebrate the lives of lost loved ones, and quilts that celebrate family, family traditions, birthdays, accomplishments, events, and travel.

When I teach Celebration Quilts as a class or workshop, I am always surprised and moved by the stories I hear. Often, the quilters I meet are planning quilts to honor family members and we talk about the linens, clothing, and collections that have been left behind. Sometimes quilts are planned to commemorate weddings, anniversaries, births, and graduations. I’d love to hear your stories…what do your quilts celebrate?

Leave a comment by Sunday, June 30, 2013, and you will be entered into a drawing for your choice of either a free copy of my book or a free consultation on a celebration quilt you’re planning or working on.

Creating Celebration Quilts is available on my website and at quilt shops everywhere.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Celebrate with Quilts!

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A little while ago, I had the chance to do an interview with Pat Sloan for her radio show on American Patchwork and Quilting Radio. We covered a lot of territory, talking about the Power Suits Art Quilts, the tribute quilts I make, and my new book, Creating Celebration Quilts, due out in Spring 2013. Pat’s always a lot of fun and I really enjoyed talking with her. To listen to my interview:

Don’t forget to let me know what you think!

Image for my appearance on Pat Sloan's radio show

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Give a Little Gift Bag Cover ImageWhat’s better than a gift? A gift that’s wrapped in a gift!

I love pretty gifts. I appreciate the time it takes to wrap a beautiful gift. All my life, I’ve taken time to wrap pretty gifts, and I’ve gone through a lot of paper. I have nothing against wrapping paper, but it seems like a one trick pony. You buy it, use it once (or more if you’re really careful), and throw it away. Make one simple gift bag, and you’ll realize how quickly you can make a stash of bags large enough to wrap an entire year’s worth of gifts!

Stack of Fabric with Red Thread

Ready to sew!

For years I’ve wrapped holiday gifts in fabric bags. I started small, using the bags only for special gifts and then I ramped up production and started to use the bags exclusively. What started as a whim has become a bit of an obsession, and I want to share that with you. There are lots of benefits to using fabric gift bags for your wrappings:

  • Fabric gift bags are green. These gift bags can last for years, creating traditions among your family as the bags travel back and forth between households. There’s no waste beyond the gift tags and any tissue paper you may choose to use.
  • Fabric gift bags can be really personal. When I shop for gift bag fabric, I watch for fabrics that will appeal to specific family and friends. Dinosaurs and trucks for my great-nephews, cardinals and snow-covered trees for my mother-in-law, anything less froofy for the men in my life.
  • Fabric bags are the perfect canvas for trying out new things. You have lots of special stitches on your sewing machine; why not use them? Are you hoarding variegated thread? Use it up! They’ll make more!

    Bag with Bernina Specialty Stitches

    Pretty Bernina Stitches

  • Fabric bags are convenient. My family has begun to build up their own gift bag supplies as they receive the bags each year. My niece, my mother-in-law, and my husband all commented this year about how easy it was to wrap gifts.
  • The bags are great for travelers who can’t wrap gifts before they clear pre-flight security. Grab a stack of bags and wrap your gifts when you get to your destination. No paper to wrinkle, no shopping for tape or ribbon.  
Miles of Drawstring

Making Miles of Drawstring

The pattern’s a great stashbuster, as you begin to pick through your fabric collection with a new perspective. You know that fabric that you don’t want to cut up because it’s too pretty? Make a bag. Only have a fat quarter? Make a bag. Have over a yard? Make a BIG bag! And don’t forget you can sew your own drawstrings! I use my Bernina binding attachment to fold and sew it closed. Yes, I make miles and miles of the stuff!

I still make a nice supply of simple cotton bags for my gifts every year, but now I’ve started making a few special bags with some very special materials.

Hand Dyed Fabric and Trim

Treasures From Artistic Artifacts

Artistic Artifacts creates wonderful hand-dyed collage packs and I have fallen in love with them. I choose a color, pick a collage pack, and then augment the contents with vintage linens, doilies, and trim that Judy Gula (Artistic Artifacts owner) has lovingly collected and then hand-dyed.

Hand-Dyed Gift Bag

2 Doilies, Fabric, Rickrack & Lace, All Hand-dyed

One more thing: don’t keep the bags to yourself. I tried that in the beginning, but it felt selfish. The bags are part of the gift. Give them away and encourage the recipients to do the same. I put labels inside my bags for everyone to sign so that each bag has a record of who has used it. It’s that simple. Give away the bag, get a smile, and save some trees that would have become wrapping paper. Give a Little Gift Bag and help change the world, one gift bag at a time.

The pattern is available on my website: www.MoonlightingQuilts.com or click here to go directly to the Pattern Page. Send me pictures of your gift bags…Thanks!

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So, how does a Kindle Addiction relate to quilting? Read on and I’ll tell you.

KindleFor those of you who know me, it will come as no surprise that I am an electronic gizmo junkie. I can’t afford to feed my habit as regularly as I’d like or I’d have an iTouch, a Blackberry, a better laptop computer…but I digress. The point is I have some toys.

I didn’t realize I was a junkie until one weekend when my husband and I were driving to the outlaws for a visit. We were collaborating on an eBook we’re writing and I found myself defending all of the stuff I had in the front of my Honda Element – plugged in, charging, or in use. My iPod was plugged into the auxiliary jack, playing one of my favorite playlists. My cell phone was charging, my laptop was up and running Word (We were writing, remember?), and I had my Kindle out so that I could see how well one of my PDFs held its format when it was transferred to the Kindle. Maybe I have a little bit of a problem.

Okay, back to the Kindle. I saved for my new Kindle for almost a year. I had a hard time justifying the purchase of an electronic book reader as long as I could simply open a paper book and read it myself. Why spend the money to buy the electronic reader and then spend additional money to buy each book? Oh, but I wanted it. I really, really wanted it. Finally, I made the purchase and waited eagerly for the UPS man to stop at my house. Of course, it arrived while I was out of town teaching at a quilt show!

You may be thinking that you love books and you’d miss the feel of the book in your hand, the intrinsic beauty of words on the page, the instant knowledge of how far you’ve read and how much you have left. The little voice in the back of my head was afraid I’d miss it too. But no. Here’s why I love my Kindle and how it all relates to quilting.

  • My one little Kindle will store about 1,500 books. Now I have more room on my shelves for fabric and pretty design books that shouldn’t be read on a screen.
  • Kindle books are less expensive than paper books. Most bestsellers are around ten dollars for the Kindle, even those only available in hardback. Some are more expensive, but many are less. In fact, I’m reading some books that were free. That means more money to spend on fabric and paints and thread.
  • I can shop for books from my laptop or directly from my Kindle and download them directly to the Kindle within 60 seconds. There are over 300,000 books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs available. No need to drive to a book store and interrupt sewing time.
  • I don’t need my computer or a wireless network to download a book. I can shop directly from the Kindle from anywhere there is a 3G network for mobile phones. While I’m waiting for my flight to a quilt show or I’m in a hotel room after giving a lecture or workshop, I can always find something I want to read.

I’ll take my Kindle to the Houston show this year and I’ll be able to carry it with me in my purse (because it’s lightweight), read whenever I’m on sensory overload and need a break (because it has an incredibly long battery life before you need to recharge), and shop for new books right there in the Convention Center (assuming there’s a 3G network there).

Now if I could just get the Kindle to clean my house, I’d have so much more time…

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Fabulous Fabric Art with Lutradur
Lesley Riley’s New Book

When I started this blog, I never really thought about doing reviews, but Lesley Riley’s new book has made me to want to share.  Fabulous Fabric Art with Lutradur is the book I would have asked for if I had really thought about it. My friend Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts has been talking about Lutradur for a while and I’ve been reading about it on the pages of Quilting Arts magazine. In fact, Laura Cater-Woods talked about it in class last year. Well, hearing about it wasn’t enough; I wanted to know more.

That’s where Lesley’s new book comes in.  She starts out by telling you about Lutradur — what it is, how it’s made, and why it’s so special. Then she describes 27 things you can do with Lutradur from adding color and pattern (think of the fun things you can do with paint, inks, and dyes), screening and printing, glueing and fusing, needle felting, and even using heat to cut and distort it.

After the techniques, Lesley shares a broad array of projects made by a variety of fiber artists. There’s a project for every taste and temperament, incorporating the techniques in the earlier section of the book. Want to stamp and stencil? It’s in there. Want to create three-dimensional objects with Lutradur? It’s in there. It’s all in there. I can’t wait to try some of these wonderful ideas.

And she makes a suggestion that I really appreciate: she says to pick a new technique for which you already have the tools and try it on one of the pieces of Lutradur included in the back of the book. Yup! The book includes one sheet each of two different weights of Lutradur. And so once you’ve bought the book, you can actually play with the Lutradur without any additional purchases.

Even with the Lutradur in the book, you’ll eventually want more. I recommend visiting Artistic Artifacts’ website for either the 70g- or 100g-weight fiber. To buy the book, visit the Favorite Things page on my website and follow the link. The book is also available from Artistic Artifacts (in person in Alexandria, VA, or online) and the Quilt Patch in Fairfax, VA.

Have some fun with this new mystery fiber. And send me pictures of what you do! I’d love to see it.

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inmyshadegarden

In My Shade Garden

Don’t you love it when good things actually happen for good people? When the lottery winner seems nice or when the the person who wins the door prize seems genuinely happy? Well, I am thrilled to share this with you!

My friend and colleague, Kathy Lincoln, has a quilt featured in the new issue (February/March) of Quilters Newsletter! Her quilt, In My Shade Garden, is featured, along with directions. And they’ve included a detail shot on their Table of Contents page! Too cool!

Kathy Lincoln

Kathy Lincoln

If you’re a subscriber, you have probably already received your copy. If not, you’ll need to wait until the Dec/Jan issue of Quilter’s Newsletter comes off the newsstands and is replaced with this one.

Kathy offers a workshop that features this quilt and includes timesaving tips and tricks.  Check out her website: www.KathyLincoln.com.

Good stuff, good people. It’s all good.

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cornercompIt’s that time of year when we all tend to become more introspective. We’re surrounded by talk of weight loss, exercise programs, and job searches. We vow to get organized, save more, reprioritize, and generally become better people. I don’t know about all of that, but I am doing a lot of looking back at the past year and I do have a few thoughts about 2009.

 

Blog

This year, I’ve written 24 posts (You’re reading #25!). I’ve shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. For 2009, I hope to concentrate more on the process of what I do, from quilting to writing to web design to teaching and lecturing. I welcome your comments.

 

Writing

2008 has been a great publishing year for me. Machine Quilting Unlimited has published my articles and given me a column. I’ve written for Quilter’s Home and one of my quilts appeared in the Washingtonian magazine. My studio was featured in the Professional Quilter magazine, and I had a quilt and a tip included in Ann Hazelwood’s book 100 Tips from Award-Winning Quilters. For 2009, I’d like to branch out to e-books about art quilting and other quilt-related topics. Let me know if you have any topics you’d like me to write about.

 

Quilts

It feels like I’ve spent most of 2008 making quilts for everyone but me. I’ve been in a number of challenges and I’ve made lots of quilts that conform to someone else’s rules. Don’t misunderstand; I love the quilts that have resulted, but I’m ready to explore some new territory. In 2009, I’d like to produce some smaller work. These pieces will give me the chance to experiment with some new techniques, play with some new ideas, and offer some new work for sale. Watch the “Quilts for Sale” page on my website for available pieces.

 

Teaching and Lecturing

2008 started out with a bang when I was fortunate enough to be nominated for the Professional Quilter magazine’s Teacher of the Year. What an honor! Locally, I have really enjoyed teaching Art Quilting at the Quilt Patch this year. I love to travel to lecture and do workshops for all kinds of quilt guilds. In fact, I lectured for SAQA in Houston again this year. For 2009, I’m starting a new section of Art Quilts 101 and I plan to continue the current Art Quilt sections. Be sure to watch for new Toolbox classes.  In addition, I’m currently booking travel for 2009 and 2010. Maybe I’ll see you out there in the Quilt world. Check my web calendar to see if I’ll be in your area or to check availability for your guild.

 

Web Design

I hereby acknowledge that I am becoming a web weenie. (Hmm. Maybe there’s a better title than that out there.) Anyone who knows me knows that I keep my computer close at hand and the thought of no Internet access can induce hives. And so I have embraced my inner geek and I plan to expand the web design part of my business beyond the four websites I already maintain. I am upgrading my software and I’m learning all I can about online commerce. I’ll include updates in future blog posts.

 

mqu4As I read this, I realize that I’ve set some monster goals for myself. I can feel my to-do lists growing even as I type this on the way home from visiting family. (Yes, we’re on I-95. No, I’m not driving.) I don’t know if I can accomplish everything I’ve set out to do, but I can guarantee one thing: I will not be bored. I invite you to take this ride with me. I’ll try not to bore you either.

 

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